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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Chief Executive Insights

How mind training for executives leads to businesses thriving

For business to transform it takes its leaders to transform first. The confronting reality is that we are part of the problem we are trying to solve. The game changer is an inner journey. My own experience with transformation is that it leads to a fundamental shift in awareness – I’ve become more present, better at dealing with the unexpected and more intuitive in my decision-making. In my role as an elite athlete, I’ve learned to master the inner game. Within only 18 months, I improved my performance by 22 percent – a step-change which physical training alone would never have led to. Reinventing myself has allowed me to become the fastest-ever Australian at the 24-hour world championships, running 259.67 kilometres. With my corporate leadership hat on, I asked myself how to help leaders and businesses thrive in their challenging environments. The answer is mind training.

Business transformation starts with mind training for executives

‘Businesses don’t transform. People do.’ I couldn’t agree more with Richard Barrett on this conclusion. Transformation starts with the personal transformation of one’s own leadership approach. The more we become motivated to succeed rather than motivated to avoid failure, the more inspirational we will be. To step-change our leadership, these simple mind training exercises can help.

Exercise #1: Embrace your challenges

Every time we get challenged, we have the opportunity to learn something about ourselves. Challenges are an invite for personal transformation. Next time when you get frustrated, angry or whatever else your emotional reaction to a challenge might be, ask yourself these questions: What is the limiting belief that is holding me back? How is this challenge an opportunity for my growth? Who do I want to be?

Exercise #2: Focus and slow down 

Typically, our automatic reaction to perceived danger is speeding up (fighting), avoidance (flight) or inactivity (freeze). When we manage to stay present with the discomfort we are facing, we become capable of much more powerful responses. Yet to do so, we have to learn to better focus our attention. Through mindfulness practice such as mediation our restless minds slow down. It opens up new possibilities for our leadership.

Exercise #3: Enter unchartered territory

When we slow down, we are at greater choice what turns we take. I encourage you to be courageous to enter unchartered territory. My experience is that when we walk new paths we have never walked before and explore where they lead to, we will surprise ourselves. I call this skill ‘turning right’ because one day I accidently turned right at my garden gate. I realised that I had always turned left at that junction. For transformation to occur, we have to switch off our autopilot and change the game. It might be scary to do so, but that’s when we will encounter the magic.

Great leadership leads to thriving cultures

As leaders, it is our task to take other people on the journey and unite them around a joint vision. Only if we provide meaning, we will navigate well through difficult times because we bring out the best in people. That is when organisations begin to shine and when thriving cultures are formed.

To become all that we can be, we have to let go of what holds us back. The notion that we are part of the problem is a scary and uncomfortable realisation. At the same time, we are in charge to step up our leadership and show the way to unknown heights. Transformation occurs when we let go of being the caterpillar wanting to crawl faster and become a butterfly spreading our wings.


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Dr. Kay Bretz
Dr. Kay Bretz, author of Turning Right: Inspire the Magic (Major Street Publishing, $32.95), is a facilitator of transformation, executive coach and inspirational speaker. As the founder of Turning Right he draws on his experiences as a corporate leader and as an Australian representative at the 24-hour world championship. Turning Right is now available at all good booksellers. Dr. Kay Bretz is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn.